Every Kid in a Park recognizes the role of national parks as a premier provider of place-based education. U.S. Virgin Islands National Park offers a variety of natural and cultural curriculum-based educational opportunities, including field trips and park ranger visits to classrooms. The website www.nps.gov/teachers contains lesson plans and content on more than 125 subjects, ranging from archaeology to biology to Constitutional law.
“Every Kid in a Park recognizes the role of national parks as a premier provider of place-based education. U.S. Virgin Islands National Park offers a variety of natural and cultural curriculum-based educational opportunities, including field trips and park ranger visits to classrooms. The website www.nps.gov/teachers contains lesson plans and content on more than 125 subjects, ranging from archaeology to biology to Constitutional law.” ~ Department of the Interior News Release
I believe that exposing children to nature, even if its more time in the yard or local parks, and with an adult mentor who shows them a sense of wonder, is the most important education for young people in this new century.
350 Pensacola will host a talk by Brigadier General John Adams, (U.S. Army, Retired) on April 12. He will discuss how the U.S. military is making plans for climate change at home and abroad.
When I worked in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at the University of West Florida, I reviewed grant opportunities from the various military branches for research related to climate change. Going back to 2010 when I began serving UWF as a Senior Grant Specialist, I became aware that our own military was well “down the road” in planning for climate change. In contrast, our city and state were hard-pressed to let the words climate change leave their lips.
This disconnect is critical to American citizens working in their own communities to help plan for climate change. Check out these sites below to see what our military is doing to prepare to mitigate climate change, and be sure to mark April 12 on your calendar. Go here for time, location, and more about General Adams’ lecture and discussion.
Everywhere there is evidence that the Earth is warming at rates not seen in recorded history. Ice ages and temperate periods like the epoch in which we live (the Holocene) have come about over thousands of years. As human populations have increased exponentially, and as we have mined and refined carbon rich ores and deposits of oil, the concentration of greenhouse gases has increased in concert with emissions.
Warming the planet, changing the dynamics of wind and ocean currents, we are beginning to see changes in our ways of life. Agricultural changes include drought, floods, insect booms, and altered growing seasons. The ranges of tree and plant populations, and the insects and birds associated with them, are moving to higher altitudes in many places–changes that go unnoticed except by scientists and Peoples of Place (farmers, naturalists, indigenous cultures).
Without significant and coordinated actions at all levels of human government, we are likely to see major disruptions in our ways of life, and social conflict from disparities in resources to respond and survive.
Find out what your community is doing. Do you have solar companies? Other alternative energy companies? What is your state doing about carbon dioxide emissions?
SOLUTIONS ABOUND: WE NEED CITIZEN PARTICIPATION TO GET THERE
On March 23, Pensacola citizens, ranging from age 7 to 70, traveled to New Orleans to protest the sale of 45M acres of Gulf Coastal waters and land for oil and gas exploration. 350 Pensacola rallied citizens to represent our area. Forty members of the community made the trip–nearly 20% of the 200 protesters who disrupted the sale of coastal lands at the Superdome on Wednesday.
During the protest, representatives from the oil and gas industry bid on the lands. Two chilling aspects of the experience were: 1) hearing the actual bids, some very low, for our precious resources called out during the chants from protesters; 2) observing the implacable faces of the industry representatives in the face of uninterrupted chanting and singing from protesters.
Later, as we enjoyed a beautiful day in New Orleans, I kept thinking about those faces, unmoved, like masks. I wondered what happens to people to become part of a violent process that is destructive to marine waters and impacts the health and well being of the people who live in the path of oil spills or areas where petroleum is refined. Hilton Kelley, a Texas citizen and winner of a Goldman Environmental Prize, addressed the protesters and media about the struggle and successes of his community in Port Arthur, Texas to work with industry to protect people from harmful chemicals and spills from petroleum refining. Kelley is also a poet:
Escambia and Santa Rosa County face their own threats to ocean and estuary habitats. Florida – a state which has notoriously exploited its own natural resources – banned offshore drilling to protect its major industry: tourism. Now, however, the state legislature is opening up its fragile aquifers to fracking and oil exploration. Santa Rosa County has already approved applications from oil companies for exploration in the shared aquifer with Pensacola. Escambia County has an application from Breitburn Operating for one as of July 2015. In a parallel process, the Escambia Board of County Commissioners is making decisions about how to spend $10M in BP fines from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill which devastated Pensacola’s economy and impacted the health of marine environments locally.
As I think back about my experience on Wednesday, this chant, and the little children up front chanting with their homemade signs rang in my memory:
Bill Moyer’s & Company featured this article. Children and youths ages 8-19 filed a complaint in Eugene, Oregon’s U.S. District Court that their rights to a safe environment have been violated.
The nonprofit, Our Children’s Trust, filed on behalf of the children. The Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the case; a federal court judge is considering the request.
By favoring the current generations over their generation, and not acting to reduce the impacts of climate change, the children contend the U.S. government – the President and the federal, state, and local agencies charged to protect the environment – has denied their generation the rights that emanate from a safe environment.
This is a violation of the public trust.
On the NOAA Vital Signs of the Planet website today, the current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 402.26 parts per million (ppt). 350 ppt or lower is considered a safe concentration for earth’s ecosystems and life within the biosphere. Concomitant rise in temperature from rising CO2 atmospheric concentration (a greenhouse gas) is unevenly applied on Earth. However, to date the average rise in temperature is 1 degree Centigrade or 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit across the whole planet. Small changes in average temperatures on Earth are associated with massive changes in climate such as the beginning or end of an ice age.
Question for Readers:
Are the children within in their rights to sue our generation, our government, for violating their rights?
Please comment to spark a discussion. See 2 video interviews on the link above.
Pensacola is blessed with many strong writers and poets. The West Florida Literary Federation leads the region in advancing the creative spirit. That includes supporting a Poet Laureate. Jamey Jones is the current Poet Laureate in Residence. He and the Federation brought my attention to Anne Waldman.
That I had never heard of Anne is both a testament to my ignorance and to the important role of the Federation in enriching individual artists’ and the public’s experiences in the arts.
Check out Anne’s moving Manatee Humanity. Her reading introduced me to the potential of poetry to advance understanding and compassion for a fellow mammal.
Anne talks about an encounter with a manatee in an aquarium in Florida. In other interviews on her website, Waldman describes Ecopoetics, a term I had never read. While you are on Waldman’s website, click around to listen to other performances. You are in for a treat and a powerful force for good. There is nothing ambivalent about Anne.
Last night the forces of authority, greed, and misogyny assassinated one of the world’s great defenders of the Earth: Berte Cáceres. Winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize for her defense of rivers in her homeland, she was murdered for leading indigenous peoples against the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam.
I think of the great women in America who defend the land under their feet: Barbara Albrecht in defense of Pensacola’s watershed, Madeline Kiser-Bieta in defense of Tucson’s watershed and Costa Rica’s rivers; Terry Tempest Williams in her defense of wilderness in Utah, and Florida writers like Jannise Ray in her defense of the Altamaha River and the Long Leaf Pine habitat; Anne Rudloe in defense of Gulf coastal habitat, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas for defense of the Everglades.
Women relate to nature through their bodies as well as their minds, as mothers who watch over their children. That is why women must lead today. Listen to this mother of mothers speak about her homelands. Under constant threats to her life, she persisted to speak for her people and their land, for the Earth.
For a look at how Terry relates to our public lands and actualizes her beliefs, here is a short interview with her on Democracy Now where she describes buying more than 1700 acres of public lands in a rather private sale of public land for oil leasing where an acre costs about a $1.50 for the right to drill and keep the profits. She is redefining “energy” in how she intends to explore these public lands. This is a very enlightening and motivating example of what one person can do to stop the destruction of critical, sacred habitat.